Oh Bob

imageI follow Bob Vila on Twitter and there are a lot of days that he has a tip that is spot-on perfect. And then are days like this. “10 things to consider when buying a new couch.” Let’s just say I’m guessing Bob doesn’t have many pets.

In 2010, we began a complete makeover of a small family room. In this case, complete meant stripping the room down to the studs and up to the roof rafters. You can see a bunch of pictures from that project here, but this post is about furniture. If you look at the picture at the right, you won’t see a couch. We had to throw it out. We relocated most of the furniture from that room, but there just wasn’t anywhere to put a couch, and we didn’t like the old couch anyway. When the room was finally finished (don’t ask for a date) we bought a new couch. While Bob touched on a couple of topics that we took into consideration, I can’t give him 10 out of 10.

My wife hates to shop for furniture so my daughter and I made a pre-shopping-trip shopping trip. We checked out four of the leading furniture stores in the area. It helped that my daughter was also looking to buy a new couch. We narrowed the field to one major store so, a week later, I went back to the store with my wife.

Our number one concern was size. As you can see, the room is narrow and it is divided on both long sides by doorways. There’s enough room for a couch that I can lay down on (6’ 2”) but not much more. We quickly discovered that a change in couch design over the years added a new term to the size equation. My wife is only 5’ 2” and on about 40% of the couches in the store, she could either have her knees bend over the front edge or have her back against the back of the couch.

The next question was “will the dog like it?

Of course, that isn’t a single question. It’s more like: Can the imagedog get up on the couch? Is the height of the armrest correct for the dog’s head? Will the cushions stay in place when the dog flips around? And, will the material hold up to a dog?

Color was kind of a consideration, although the seat cushions will spend most of their life covered with a color-coordinated sheet. That’s because, well, if you have a dog, you know. We also have two cats, so food that they see for the second time and hairballs are possible. While it’s true that Olympic sprinters can make it from the kitchen to the family room in time to relocate the soon-to-be-offending kitty, we aren’t sprinters and our cats wait until we’re at the other end of the house to start hacking. So, having something you can toss into the washer or, on a particularly bad day, replace, is a good idea.

We settled on a couch with black fabric, three seat cushions and three, permanently attached back cushions. It wasn’t particularly expensive, but that’s not to say that it was cheap. Given that the dog will spend more time on it than me, it was way more than I had hoped to pay. The sales clerk shocked us a bit when he said:

OK, you’re going to go with one of our disposable sofas.”

See, in the store, it’s a sofa. It’s part of a “conversation area group.” It only turns into a couch after it’s delivered and a cat pukes on it.

Anyway, our response was: “Disposable?

Yes. That sofa is designed for people who prefer to change their décor every 2-3 years. It’s good quality but it won’t hold up to constant use.”

Well, it’s been 4 years and the sofa has held up well to one older gentle Irish Setter and one dingbat Irish Setter puppy, not to mention two cats.


26 thoughts on “Oh Bob

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  1. Pictures – The family room after the demolition was complete. In the middle is Mollie checking out the new couch. At the bottom we have MiMi on the left who needed just a little more cush. Maddie wasted no time checking out the couch and on the right we have Mollie and, I think that’s MuMu.


  2. Looks like for most people a sofa is the hardest piece of furniture to find. Criterias are much more complex than for a table or a bed, let say. Of course with animals it gets even more complicated since their needs are unique. I love their names by the way, although I would maybe get mixed up with all the Ms.


  3. To start off, I would just like to say Bob should be providing you with some kind of perk.. cause I just went and followed him on twitter, and I am sure that I am one of many who will thanks to your own social networking.

    Although I live here in Australia, his tips could pretty much be applied to almost anywhere. His website is also a wealth of knowledge. I’m not suprised you find his advice handy.

    I’m feeling pretty chuffed right now that I got the link to look at the Flickr pics of your family room renovation. Grand Designs and just about anything DIY are one of my favorite programs to watch!
    My favorite pictures are of the pup poking his nose in by the side of the plastic and the poor car.. LOL choc a bloc full of supplies (including wood that was too long to fit). Your ‘guests’ (wood munching critters, wasps etc) have cousins here too, and they are one of the reasons why I hate to do major clean outs of the garage. Just in case…

    I’m still going through those pictures and could possibly go on for pages, but to the point…. We also purchased our couch with consideration to the pets (in this case Pet – one Golden Lab Ret, Flame) – If you look at Garfield – my recliner, we picked that colour, OVER the dark chocolate (which would have been better for an 8 & a 10 year old) because of the color of her fur.

    Flame WAS a guide dog, and then a few months after the purchase, it was decided that she would be retired by the GDA. We then got a new dog. Halo. She is a Black Labrador. #BlankStares


    I’m glad the couch has lasted and that we aren’t the only ones who purchase furniture with the pets in mind.


    1. I’m sure Garfield looks good with black accents. That’s Mollie poking her nose through. We gave her access after we finished the construction but before we had furniture. She would go over and lay on the floor where her couch used to be. Subtle , I know.


  4. Add me to the mix on buying with pets in mind . No dog , but two irresponsible cats . Yeah , we have it covered with blankets and plastic . When guests are over we take those off , of course , and hope that there’s no smell . I’m never sure .


  5. ROFL! Diva Dog has done her fair share of “hacking” when my back is turned or just left the room as well. I can relate! Funny though right now my daughter’s got a sofa set here she’s trying to sell. With luck it will sell soon. I don’t have the room!


  6. All things considered, when anything is bought for this house, we always consider our “cat family” and how they will accept the purchase. That is with one exception. A new washer and dryer (which I need) I get to have the final say. LOL Thank you for this post. I’m glad I’m not the only one who considers our animal family when purchasing furniture. (((HUGS))) Amy


    1. She is special. She spends way more time on that couch than I do. When we finished the room, but before we bought the new couch, she would lay on the floor where the couch belonged and she would give me that ‘sad pup’ look. Thanks for stopping by.


  7. Oh, I could write too much on this. All this!
    We hate our couch. We wish we had our stupid old couch, which we bought to get through the early childhood years, brown, patterned, stain-guarded. We made it out of the messy years, and bought a pale gray/blue/aqua what color is it couch, and it’s become quite uncomfortable in the last few years. Ironically, the matching loveseat (tacky maybe, but utterly practical) is wonderful, and so we will keep it until it dies, but the sofa is so…argh.
    So pleased with how the stupid brown couches held up, we bought from the same manufacturer, and we paid MORE for the new one, too, which irritates us no end.

    That Bob Vila sometimes makes simple things much more complex than they need be, but he’s still a great resource!

    Did you notice all my cats are C names? Y’all are quirky like us!


    1. Furniture shopping should be something couples are required to do before getting a marriage license. We have ended up with furniture that we hated and I don’t know how that happens, We sat in it in the store, It felt good, We brought it home and it was awful.

      Everything in this house but me has an M name. We have thrown out couches, loveseats and a chair or two that some dog or cat simply loved and they have a way of letting you know. One dog would flip and flop and never quite be comfortable on a replacement couch, as if to say “you threw out the one I loved!” As if… I once brought a crummy little desk chair up from the basement so it would be closer to the door on trash day. One of our cats started sleeping on it. The cat has been gone almost 10 years but we still have the chair.



  8. I think the disposable couch lady attended sales training with the guy in the other store we looked at; the one who tried to sell this vegetarian a lower-tier leather couch by describing the cow who got struck by lightning and the cow who got stuck in a barbed wire fence prior to their transformation into said couch. That may be my next blog post.


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